Monday, August 9, 2010

Mayor's First Day Festival gets students off on right foot

By Suzanne Normand Blackwood • THE TENNESSEAN • August 9, 2010 ville Mayor Karl Dean said he shakes more hands at the Mayor's First Day Festival than at any other time during the year. And there was a whole lot of hand shakin' going on Sunday at Bridgestone Arena as the festival celebrated its 11th year. The event was designed to kick off the school year with live entertainment and educational activities for children. More than 100 booths offered information for parents, and local businesses and community organizations sent kids home with bags stuffed full of free school supplies. "I got some magnets, a highlighter and some pencils … a notebook, a water bottle … some good stuff," said Jake Rosen, a fifth-grader at Abintra Montessori School. Ella Dunn, who brought her three great-nephews, found information on Boy Scouts and programs offered by the YMCA. Dunn said there also was a lot of information about various social programs, such as adult education and health care. Children's entertainers FunikiJam and Kevin Kidd entertained audiences, while mascots mingled with kids. Volunteers, many of them members of the Mayor's Youth Council, dashed about taking care of various tasks. Dean said he was pleased with the turnout, which despite the heat was comparable to last year's attendance of 20,000. "I think it's a great indication of the level of interest in public education," Dean said. "It shows (parents') commitment to making sure their kids get off to a great start."

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